Bruno Beger

Bruno Beger

Beger conducting anthropometric studies in Sikkim
Born (1911-04-27)April 27, 1911
Frankfurt am Main, German Empire
Died October 12, 2009(2009-10-12) (aged 98)
Königstein im Taunus, Germany
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Jena
Occupation Anthropologist
Known for 1938–1939 German expedition to Tibet

Bruno Beger (27 April 1911 – 12 October 2009) was a German racial anthropologist who worked for the Ahnenerbe. In that role he participated in Ernst Schäfer's 1938 journey to Tibet, helped the Race and Settlement Office or SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt of the SS identify Jews, and later helped select human subjects to be killed to create an anatomical study collection of Jewish skeletons.

Early life

Beger (right) with the Tibet expedition and their Sikkimese interpreters, Kaiser Bahadur Thapa and Rabden Khazi, in 1938.

Beger was born in 1911 to an old Heidelberg family that soon after came upon hard times when Beger's father was killed in World War I, but a family friend paid for him to attend the University of Jena where he was first exposed to Hans F. K. Günther during a lecture, a man who would encourage him through his early academic career in anthropology and ethnology.

Service in the SS

Anthropologist Beger being blessed by Tibet's Regent, Reting Rinpoche, in Lhasa, in 1938.

In 1934, Beger began working a part-time job in the Race and Settlement Office of the SS where he eventually became a section head. Beger was asked to be part of an expedition to Hawaii, but while this was awaiting final approval, he was invited on a trip to Tibet led by Ernst Schäfer which he accepted instead.

In a proposal he wrote to Schäfer, Beger stated his contribution to the expedition would be "to study the current racial-anthropological situation through measurements, trait research, photography and moulds... and to collect material about the proportion, origins, significance and development of the Nordic race in this region."[1]

German Ernst Schäfer Tibet Expedition

All through the expedition, Beger kept a travel diary which was published in book form 60 years later, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa (Wiesbaden, 1998). Only 50 copies of it exist.[2]

Jewish skeleton collection

Beger worked together with August Hirt at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg. His assignment, which he carried out, was to provide the Nazi physician with detainees of diverse ethnic types from various concentration camps in order to serve Hirt's lethal racial experiments. The work involved selecting over 100 individuals from Auschwitz to be murdered for their skeletons. They were mainly Jews, and the crime was exposed during the Nuremburg trials in 1946 . The victims were sent to Natzweiler concentration camp for gassing by Joseph Kramer. Their corpses were then sent to Hirt in Strasburg. In these endeavours he was assisted by doctors Hans Endres, Hans Fleischhacker, Heinrich Rübel and Rudolf Trojan. [3]

After the war

In 1974 he was convicted by a German court as an accessory to 86 murders for his part in procuring and preparing the victims of the Jewish skeleton collection at Auschwitz concentration camp. The victims were transported to Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in August 1943 and gassed there by Josef Kramer, the commandant who was later hanged by the British for war crimes committed at Belsen concentration camp. Beger was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, the minimum sentence, but did not serve any time in prison.

According to his family, Beger died in Königstein/Taunus on October 12, 2009.[4][5]

See also

Published work


  1. Joseph Cummins, History's great untold stories: obscure events of lasting importance, Murdoch Books, 2006, p. 327.
  2. Detlev Rose, L’expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39, voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ?: "Bruno BEGER, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa, Wiesbaden, 1998, page 6. Ce livre récapitule les notes du journal de voyage de Beger, réadaptées pour publication. Il n'a été tiré qu’à une cinquantaine d'exemplaires."
  3. Pringle, Heather (2006). The master plan : Himmler's scholars and the Holocaust (1 ed.). New York: Hyperion. p. 254. ISBN 0-7868-6886-4.
  4. "Die Spur der Skelette (Mention of death in section labeled Auftrag erweitert)". Der Spiegel (in German). 1 June 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  5. Lang, Hans-Joachim. "The Perpetrators". The Names of the Numbers. Retrieved 23 March 2016.

Further Reading

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